Saturday, October 16


This is an encouraging development. An organization plans to use exit polls in five closely contested states in November to measure whether there have been impediments to voting.

Votewatch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, plans to conduct exit polls in selected states to monitor election procedures and record impediments to voting, including voting equipment flaws, confusion over ballots and perceived discrimination by polling officials.

Steven Hertzberg, a San Francisco systems engineer who founded Votewatch, said he planned to use volunteers supplied by civic groups like Common Cause, among other recruits, and that they would be trained and supervised by polling professionals.

From its exit polling, Votewatch hopes to go beyond anecdotal indicators and get a measure of how many people encountered which kind of problems, Mr. Hertzberg said.

The group has also decided to ask people whom they voted for, or meant to vote for, to assess whether one candidate's backers are more affected by irregularities. But Fritz Scheuren, president of the American Statistical Association and a principal adviser to Votewatch, said it was important to note that "we are not competing with the networks, and we don't want to appear to be."

In any event, its backers say, Votewatch won't be projecting who will win or lose in November - only the incidence of voting problems that might affect the outcome.


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